Mockingjay Discussion 25: A Week Later

Three quick questions for serious readers of Mockingjay, the finale of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, a week after its publication:

(1) How many times have you re-read or re-visited this story after your first reading?

(2) Has your thinking about the book or series changed in major ways in that time? minor ways?

(3) Mockingjay was clearly meant to be a knock-out blow kind of reading experience. Did you find it a powerful or painful blow? A painfully powerful head shot?

Thank you in advance for sharing your answers to these questions — and for joining us here for our discussion of the Panem Saga’s closer (Here is a collection of the 25 HogPro Mockingjay posts). I hope to post tomorrow on the literary alchemy of Mockingjay; see you then for the allegorical and anagogical artistry of the book with some thoughts on how it did and didn’t work!


  1. 1) I have not reread the main story at all. I have reread several times the last chapter & the Epilogue.

    2) I’m clearly disappointed with the majority of Mockingjay but I don’t think that disappointment will affect my appreciation for the first two books in the series, especially The Hunger Games.

    3) I didn’t particularly find it powerful or painful but that’s partially because I had someone feeding me spoilers for what went on. She had gotten her book on Saturday. I asked for the spoilers. They don’t particularly bother me. But I don’t think I would’ve found it powerful even if I hadn’t had the spoilers. So many things in the story just felt like they were in there to to give us a jolt. So, Finnick’s death…well, as soon as he got married I knew he had to die or would die. So, it was no surprise when he did. Same with Prim; someone close to Katniss had to die & she was the unlucky character. No impact at all, on me at least.

    Here are the three things in the book that were powerful & moving for me: Katniss’ & Buttercup’s reconciliation over Prim’s death, the final lines of Ch 27 (You love me; real or not real. I tell him, real.), & the Epilogue.

  2. 1) I’ve reread from Prim’s death to the end like 3 times.

    I started a reread of the entire book, but I’m only a couple chapters in. I’ve mostly been refreshing this board and obsessively to find topics to discuss.

    2) The first time I read the ending and epilogue, I just shrugged and thought it was a decently happy ending. Upon further rereads I realized it was more and more depressing. But I can appreciate it. Actually, maybe there should have been a third “shadows” thread – one for Lord of the Rings. I think Katniss at the end has a lot in common with Frodo – both saved their world but were unable to completely enjoy the fruit of their labor because they were broken by the process. Maybe Frodo was worse off because he had to leave Middle Earth to be healed, but then again, Frodo didn’t have a Peeta.

  3. 1) I’d read HG and CF twice over the summer, then once more the weekend prior to MJ’s shelf-date. I’ve read MJ twice this past week and will revisit the book again very soon.

    2)Until I followed the HogPro discussions, I did not have one particular view of the series. One of the interviews with Ms Collins persuaded me to rethink the themes, thereby painting my lens for the third read of HG and CF with more pronounced sensitivity to the fallout of war. The major impact was finding parallels between our military personnel and the victors and rebels of Panem (combat-related issues of all kinds), and between abusive, controlling governments around the world today and the Capitol’s regime (inclusive of the present push in the USA to create a socialistic state, IMO) and the fallout of such oppression.

    3)Bull’s-eye!!! Powerful and painful. Collins put the horrors of war right out there. I, too, bawled at Finnick’s death, Katniss and Buttercup’s reunion in D12, and the Epilogue. A deep, thought-provoking read.

  4. 1) I haven’t reread it cover to cover but I’ve gone back and reread several parts including the end several times.

    2) I enjoyed the books, but Mockingjay made me love the series. I also think the discussions here and elsewhere have increased my appreciation of the books and all that there is to discuss within them.

    3) Yes. I found it to be a knock-out kind of read. I’m used to reading at least 12 books a month and this past summer it stalled to 2 because I wasn’t enjoying anything. Mockingjay reminded me of the power of a good book and the joy of discussing it with friends.

  5. 1) I haven’t reread MJ cover to cover, and probably won’t for another month. It’s been almost a week since I’ve read it, and there is not a day that I don’t think about it, so I’m forcing myself not to read it again until its effects on me is gone. I have, however, reread the first chapter and the epilogue.

    2) MJ is not what I expected at all. I was disappointed, but I don’t think I would want the series to end any other way. I expected something like Katniss saving Panem mostly by herself (which is very unrealistic), death of either Peeta or Gale, and overall a happier ending. I’d take what Collins wrote over my expectations any day though.

    3) Yes, it was a powerful and painful blow for me. Although I did get some spoilers (Finnick’s death, Prim’s death, Katniss and Peeta ending up together), I had no idea MJ would be like this at all, so it was very shocking for me. I’m still suffering emotionally from the aftermath of reading MJ, but I think I would be more shocked had I not gotten the spoilers.

  6. 1. I’ve reread it once with my husband over the course of several days, as opposed to my first read which took hours. And I’ve reread parts I particularly liked a couple times, too. The end of 27 and the Epilogue, Finnick letting Katniss borrow his rope, just about any scene with Johanna, “Saint Peeta” calling Katniss out on her Catching Fire actions. (I was always rooting for Peeta, but there was something about that scene that I just really enjoyed.)

    2. The more I’ve thought about the book and series in the last week, the more I like it. My first read I had a hard time with a lot of the last third. My second time wasn’t much better, but at least I knew there was some hope at the end.
    The thing that I did notice the second time, and after reading some posts on here, is how tightly written the plot is. I think I get how the love triangle (that some people seemed to either think was the point of the books, or was just superfluous) reinforced the message. And I really liked the feeling that the books ended where they started. It gave me a sense of completion or wholeness to the story. I don’t really know how else to explain that, and I could go on and on with examples, but this doesn’t seem like the right post for that.

    3. For me it was both. After the girl with the yellow coat got shot I didn’t think I could take much more of the book. The violence was painful for me. I could have done with a lot less of it. The self-destruction of Katniss and Gale’s friendship, and Gale as a character, was painful.
    But I also thought the messages about war, loss, hope, and love were powerful.

  7. 1. I have dipped into MJ here and there every day since finishing, but have not begun a front-to-back reread.

    2. I consider the series as a whole to be a masterpiece, but I do not think Mockingjay quite fulfilled the promise of the first two books.

    3. After the shocking and unsettling violence of the first two books, I was less shaken by Mockingjay. For me Katniss’s interactions with President Snow (finding the rose at the very beginning, and their brief but loaded dialogue at the end) were the moments that came closest to the power of Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I live in Lower Manhattan, so I was especially moved by the first chapter, most notably K’s comment about what, or whom, she is breathing in.

  8. 1) No full re-reads yet. I’m not sure I’m going to even attempt it for a while. I got the audiobook too, but after reading it the first time, I don’t think I’m ready for that experience. Not yet. Like I said jokingly over twitter, I’m just regaining my appetite. 😉

    The parts I have re-visited the most are from Gale/Katniss’s last conversation onward. Ending and epilogue, basically.

    (2) I really wasn’t expecting the book to be like it turned out. The first two books did not prepared me at all for what was coming. Of course, we had all figured some of the themes present in the HG and CF, we new they were heavy, but I never expected Collins to be so upfront. She definitely went to places I’d not contemplated. In a way, it was pretty gutsy of her.

    (3) My personal experience was both painful and powerful. I felt gutted after I finished. I was very sensitive through my reading, even from the beginning (D8 hospital bombing, anyone?). The ending was just the final blow. I felt sort of hollow at the end. My heart felt heavy. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I needed to make peace with it, for my character’s sake and mine. Thanks to the HogPro and their wonderful, insightful group of people for helping me through that process.

  9. (1) I have read it 3 times, with several re-reads of my favorite parts. Those are mainly Chapter 27 and the epilogue, and Peeta’s warning about the bombs until his rescue. Also Finnick’s wedding.

    (2) I always believed that the books were meant to send a message, but I never felt that it was heavy-handed until I read MJ. It was almost over-the-top in its lack of subtlety. In that vein, it did knock me over the head. I was bowled over by hijacked Peeta, and the number of “main characters” that died. I suppose, however, that in an anti-war novel you can’t get your point across unless a bunch of people die.

    (3) I’ve enjoyed reading the discussions here. Being open to seeing the various imagery techniques and parallels with other novels has helped me not to be solely shocked, but to also love the flavor of the books. I especially loved the post comparing Katniss to Bella from Twilight. It’s so fun to see the anti-Twilighters get up in arms. :0)

  10. 1. I have read it only once because I loaned out my copy of the book and only just got it back. I plan to reread since the first was too quick and I know a lot didn’t fully sink in.

    2. I haven’t had any major changes in the way I view the books or series as a whole. I still believe that it is a powerful series and I am really impressed with Suzanne Collins as an author. I used to primarily read for escape from this world, but I also liked to include well thought out books with depth and meaning. I am finding that as I age I like the more meaningful books that make me think more than fluff. I am growing tired of fluff.

    3. I found Mockingjay both painful and meaningful. It was a very powerful book, but some of that came from the shock of the brutality as well as the ethical ambiguities that war brings. There are a lot of hard decisions that go on in war and real vs not real becomes a valid worry. There are consequences we can’t envision in the middle of it either. I think that this series is a great place to begin discussions with our kids and with ourselves. I know that some of the things in this book will continue to haunt me for a while.

  11. I love the books, John & Elizabeth, and am going back through the ending several times — because it didn’t make any sense to me.

    My theory at this point is that the author wanted four books, the publisher said no, so she gave them a crappy, “tell, don’t show” ending, in hopes they’d concede on the unwritten final book.

    But no. So we have the anti-resolution ending.

    In Breaking Dawn, we have the unintended theme arising among the loose strings of “anger is the key to discovering your real power over others.” (What, Meyer never saw Star Wars?) Hence the clamor for another book.

    Similarly, in Mockingjay, we have the unfortunate theme of “psychoactive drugs are the only way to ‘survive’ this terrible world.” They even need a building a factory to make more.

    This is not how the hero overcomes the world; it’s how the world overcomes us all. Perhaps that was her point, but I’m left wondering if her publisher was recently bought out by a pharmaceutical company.

  12. 1) I’ve reread several parts, and the ending and epilogue several times. Like George, I am a romantic and I like that ending of Chapter 27 and then the Epilogue. After such an emotionally draining book, I needed to go back several times to see the lighter moments, and to see how Katniss and her friends have, inspite of everything, started putting themselves back together.
    I’ve just started to reread the book. I can go at a slower and more thoughtful pace now that I’m not in dire suspense about what will happen and scared to death over the fate of characters that I love.

    2) I don’t think it’s changed in major ways yet. I think Collins has used the book and the series to caution us regarding both extremes of the political spectrum, and most of all, to make a statement about war that is so frighteningly pertinent now.

    3) It was both painful and powerful. In each book in the series I spent the first read through anxious and so eager to find out the fate of my characters. Every minute I wasn’t reading felt like I was leaving them unattendened while they were in trouble, this was especially the case with H.G. and with MJ most of all. Some of the imagery in the book was very powerful, and so far on my second read-through will allow me to experience more of it’s power and less of its pain. I want to more fully appreciate her artistry, see the references to Plato’s Allergory of the Cave and literary alchemy. This book left me with so many questions (mainly in a good way), and like Lyn, it will haunt me for a while, both it’s happy and it’s sad aspects.

  13. (1) Reread once, although I’ve reread from “Assassin” to about Chapter 27 a few times because that area of the book is packed with action and I didn’t always keep up with it the first couple of times, and those chapters are some of the most important ones in the entire series, really.

    (2) Not a bit- I had read Suzanne Collins’ writing beforehand, I knew what to expect, I prepared myself for what I wasn’t expecting, and therefore I didn’t find anything that changed my perspective on the trilogy.

    (3) Mostly painful. I really, really appreciated the themes within the series because I was able to identify with a lot of it. My mother returned from a tour in Afghanistan with pretty intense post traumatic stress disorder. It’s painful because it’s obviously something that Suzanne Collins researched well, she knows it doesn’t just go away, and she writes it in a way that young readers should take note of: Even if you survive the physical blows, emotionally you’re never totally the same. It also sort of hit me how much that experience in and of itself has numbed me, since I didn’t find myself getting very emotional over any of the sacrifices present in the book and so many others in the community either felt betrayed or absolutely desolate. I’m sure the power in the writing will come later, maybe on a third or fourth read, but it hasn’t yet.

  14. 1. I have read the Hunger Games and Catching Fire three times and Mockingjay twce.

    2. It changed my thoughts in a few ways. Firstly, I thought she a had a good message to put out with the violence our world has that we have become almost immune to when we see it in our papers or on TV. Secondly, I like how she twisted and turned things and it made more sense when I reread it to see where she was trying to take the story. And lastly, I think the third book was made mostly to shock rather than to carry out in a natural way, but it is afterall Suzanne Collins story.

    3. I found Mockingjay to be a painfully powerful read. It was intense and good up until the point after they lost Boggs. It seemed after that S.C. as all about the shock factor. I know where she got her ideas for the books and the parallels to Greek mythology she drew in, but somewhere it seemed to go off course. To me at least, it seemed to just take off and was like BAM! you lose Finnick, BAM! Prim is dead, BAM! it was Gale’s bomb that killed her, BAM, they’ll never be friends again, BAM! her mom won’t come home to be with her. I was like “Seriously?! Are you kidding me?!” She just seemed like she was in a rush to finish. It wasn’t as detail oriented and descriptive anymore. I love the first two. The third was going great and then it was like a sucker punch in the gutand a let down all at the same time. Suzanne Collins got what she wanted though, these books and characters will probably never leave me.

  15. Deborah Hopkinson says

    To Jame- as for Suzanne wanting four books, I had the chance to interview her for a Bookpage review before Hunger Games came out and she told me that she had originally pitched it as a trilogy — and she knew from the beginning how it would end.

    1. I am a children’s author myself, but found that I read this mostly as a reader rather than as a writer. I read it once through, then reread parts, then downloaded it from audible and listened to it as I tend to be a fast reader and miss things. I don’t particularly like the narrator but hearing it was good.

    2. I think some of my concerns with the book remain after several readings, though I also loved much about it. Primarily I wonder about the lack of mention about COMMUNITY in the end. What did Katniss and Peeta do with their lives 20 years later? Only hunt and bake? Did Peeta become a painter? Run for District city council?? It felt like a lack to me — that part of healing is working on behalf of others or working for something else in some way.

    I also felt that consigning Gale to a “fancy job” did not ring true…would he be head of a left wing newspaper or nonprofit agency or anti-poverty effort? But it was hard to say because it was hard to know what kind of society the rebels actually built….I wanted to know what happened to Joanna, and I wanted to know why, if Haymitch was able to pull it together enough to be part of the rebellion and basically pretty functional through all of Book 3, and to heal somewhat by contributing to the book, why he then just went back to drinking…he was clearly motivated to risk his life and fight for something…And he seemed to be there for Peeta in book 3 — why wasn’t he there for Katniss when they went back to District 12 in the end?

    I do think we saw in Mockingjay a much more realistic effect of Suzanne’s original impetus — watching neighborhood to neighborhood fighting in the Iraq war…and so that made more sense to me multiple times through…

    3. I felt in a way that there was more of a haze, or detachment from the reading experience in Mockingjay compared especially to Hunger Games with its very clear dramatic arc. There was definitely more telling, which started in the final pages of Catching Fire…

    As someone who loves books it’s also just wonderful to see discussions like this.

  16. Thanks very much, Deborah. That question was bothering me and I appreciate the answer. Like you say, there is something dissociative about the ending. I think Gale is working in District 2, so I thought, presumably, that he is doing weapons consulting and development. Ugh.

    Stacy – I agree, although for me the story runs off the rails when Finnick is killed, for no particular reason other than to dispense with him, it seems, and Katniss briefly reads his mind as his life flashes before his eyes… Weird.

    The summarizations of months and years bother me the most. My eldest and I spent the afternoon talking over variations on the ending that would have been more satisfying, from just a few pages to a whole other book. It wasn’t difficult, and the wonderful elements in the book still fit in just fine.

    For example, we have the big kiss as an emotional high point in each book — except for the one where Katniss fully decides she loves him and wants to earn him back, and they actually marry. All that happens off-screen.

    And the big showdown between Katniss and Gale is “Shoot straight.” Wow, that was easy. And sort of boring. Makes Meyer look like Faulkner.

    Anyone know of a clarifying interview with Collins?

  17. Kristy Claire says

    If this is blasphemy, I’m sorry, but I would love to read some sort of satisfying fan fiction ending to Mockingjay. I have to agree with many (like James) … I love these books dearly but the end feels dissociative and disconnected. I was so caught up in the story and world of these characters, but the ending of this book was written like the author hit “fast forward” when she should have hit “play” and we’re watching all these people we’ve come to really know and love zoom by in a blur. Now we’ve missed so many details and want to go back and watch it all on “play”. Can we rewind, please? 🙁 I’m left wanting.

  18. 1. I haven’t done a full reread yet, but I have revisited certain sections (last chapter, epilogue, Finnick’s death, Peeta’s memories coming back) many times.

    2. Upon first finishing the book, I was very satisfied with how it wrapped up, although a little haunted by the epilogue. The more time went by, however, the more the losses sunk in and the harder it was to sit in the place the book left the characters.

    3. Very powerful and painful as well. I very much appreciated the themes Collins presented: she raised some intense ethical considerations and questions. I also agree with several of the last posters that the end felt somewhat rushed and unsatisfying. What DID happen to Johanna and Annie and Gale and Katniss’s mother and all these other characters we’ve grown to care about? Another thing that felt dissatisfying was that it seemed Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch were in almost exactly the same places they were at the beginning of book two. Peeta bakes. Katniss hunts. Haymitch drinks. (I’m with you on that entirely, Deborah.) So what’s the point of the last two books if the characters haven’t developed or grown or come to a different place then they were at the end of The Hunger Games? Obviously I think there was a lot of development, but to have them end up in the same roles and activities (especially Haymitch!) as they were in at the beginning of book 2 makes it feel like all the events in the interim didn’t affect them in any substantial way.

  19. James- A friend of mine and I also sat a talked about proable better endings. With FInnick I think if he was going to die it should have been a heroic death, not Katniss looking down in the sewer and watching him be decapitated. And the whole thinking she could see his life flash bfore her eyes as if she were him seems totally out of character and did not flow with the book. Like you said, just weird. Although, a lot of things at the end did not sit well with me.

    Deborah- I couldn’t agree more about Gale getting a “Fancy” city job. Everything that was presented to us about his character totally goes against him getting a high profile job and being put on tv. I can see him maybe being part of the rebuilding effort of the districts and/or helping pass laws that would ake sure no one would live in poverty the way they did again.
    And as for Haymitch, I thought that he and Katniss grew a lot closer throughout MJ, so where the heck was he when they got back to town and why after months of sobriety did he relapse into his drunken slovenly way of life before?

    And I would also like to know what happened to Peeta after he left Tigris’ shop. Was he watching out for Katniss? Was that how he got burnt? And when they get back to 12 shouldn’t there be more of a reconciliation scene between him and Katniss? I mean, I know it would take time, but I feel like there should have been a talk of how things are for them or something like that. Maybe that would have made how things turned out for them more believable.

    I think too many thing were left unresolved or happened behind the scenes that was just told to us without telling how the came to be. For me it made it less and less believable. It was sped through way too fast

  20. I’ve been thinking about the accusations of Haymitch neglecting Katniss back in 12, and I wonder if, in her state, she doesn’t realize he is watching over her. Greasy Sae feeds her, somebody makes the fire up, etc. I imagine Haymitch is keeping a much closer eye on her than we see or that, in her condition, she realizes. If anyone understands the mess in her head, it’s Haymitch, and he may be giving her the space and time to heal that he would want. He doesn’t drag her out of that chair and into the shower. She has to do that herself. I did hope he might sober up, but that really would be unrealistic! 🙂
    The geese are interesting, though. Does anybody else notice how many geese are in this book (sorry, tuned in to birds)?Katniss and Gale shoot down the hovercraft with geese tactics, she’s plucking geese in 2 when Gale comes, and then Haymitch raises them. As the guard dogs of Rome, and pretty tough creatures, they mirror Haymitch nicely, I think. Geese are not terribly likeable!

  21. I think I agree with Elizabeth. I think Haymitch may be watching out for her, but despite their growing understanding of each other in MJ, Haymitch and Katniss are both rather prickly individuals, the only moment of tenderness or affection they share has to do with Peeta. At the end of Catching Fire we learn that Haymitch has been up to all sorts of plans and machinations that Katniss is unaware of, so in her current state, I think it makes sense that he could be keeping an eye on her without her realizing it. Given the dynamics between characters, I think he’s leaving the tendernes Katniss needs to Peeta (Haymitch probably knew his return was imminent). Of course, a nice suprise was that Buttercup helped too!

  22. I agree, Diva, that Haymitch is still Katniss’ mentor in some way, in the end, just as he is in the beginning. Even his drunken fall, in reviewing the story later, seems to be less an accident than a distraction (at his own expense) to save Katniss’ failure from showing her tears.

    I assume this has been brought up elsewhere in the many Hunger Games’ posts, but among all the types of Roman gods in the games (Finnick as Neptune with his trident, Katniss as the huntress Diana, Peeta as the lame Vulcan creating thunderbolts with flames, etc.), we have a caregiving, Christian God figure in Haymitch, despite his initial appearance as, perhaps, Bacchus, the god of drink.

    Peeta and Katniss spend a lot of time wondering “where the heck is he?” when they are in need of blessings, looking to the heavens for his gifts to befall them, and so forth.

    So Haymitch’s drinking is a comic reason, within the microcosm’s of the Games, for God’s seeming indifference amid our short term concerns, whereas over the long-term His/his hand in things is increasingly obvious to those humble enough to consider that their successes may be due (in no small part) to another’s influence.

    So, again, yes, I agree that Haymitch is still watching over Katniss and Peeta. Of course, like Katniss, to see that, you first have to have the faith to assert that Haymitch is aware and concerned for her; once you have that faith though, the answer is fairly obvious — like with his lack of communicating because Katniss was already so close to finding the water. And thus, his lack of interference at the end may be due to his foreknowledge that her reunion with Peeta was soon to come…

    If you can count months of sitting in one room, in the same clothes, in a catatonic state “soon.” Of course God seems to have trouble telling time in real life as well; things never seem to come as “soon” as we may think they ought to be. 🙂

    Elizabeth, my daughter insists that Katniss transitions from Diana to Venus (in her persona as the Mockingjay), and geese are among her symbols. So that may or may not be a clue(??).

  23. Stacy, you’re right about Finnick. Such a waste. They could have done the nightlock bomb and locked the lid down without him dying. And he could have gone off happily with Annie as a (much needed) symbol of hope at the end of the story.

    The end of Finnick reminds me of my 5th grade teacher. Whenever we wrote a story in her class (which was often), the only rule was that we couldn’t have anyone die at the end. That was a cop-out, she said, and was due to sloppy writers not having planned out what they would do with their characters.

    I assume the vision Katniss has of Finnick’s life passing before his/her eyes is an attempt to give him his due, but I know that my fifth grade teacher would have given Collins poor marks on that one!

    P.S. I have three Hunger Games news articles added to today’s recap over on my site, with casting and directing rumors for the Hunger Games movie, which is moving forward quickly (also casting for Renesmee):

  24. James, I like the points you made. The comparisons to the characters as Roman gods makes a lot of sense (considering that Collins has openly acknowledge the mythological sources to her series), and Haymitch as a Christian God figure (as ‘scary’ as it is to think of him in that role!) makes sense.
    You bring up a good point about her being shut up in her old quarters all alone for months before being taken home to District 12. I mentioned over at The Hogs Head that that and her trial haven’t been sitting well with me. The insanity defense is probably the best Katniss could get (and like others, I see a bit of a Katniss-Frodo connection), but clearly even the post-revolution society has a lot of work to do in achieving justice. I do wonder what on earth was going on that *no one* came to see Katniss or even talked to her during that period of months (or what seemed like months to her anyway). No doubt there is some anagogical meaning.

  25. Yes, I agree, Diva, including the insanity defense is not a happy thing, and the society is still flawed. There may be some anagogical reasoning for the rushed ending, but still, it ought to have been within a (more) compelling story line.

    For instance, it could have ended with Coin falling, snake guy laughs himself to death, all hell breaks loose, the end.

    In a succeeding book, the scientists realize their genetic pool is doomed to failure in the future. Panic sets in as the citizens try to procreate like crazy, with as many partners as possible, causing new drama for the love triangle; Katniss is not so sure about that. The new president discovers Coin’s plans to explore a secret, ancient genetic pool of some sort buried in 13. The Olympian strike force reassembles while the court drags on, and the full deviousness of Coin is revealed and sinks in as nation realizes it needs to fully repent, and create a new society. But how (especially when traditional marriage is being undone)? The strike force enters the labyrinth realizing that it wasn’t a cave-in; it was sealed off. What sort of evil lurks within? A dungeons and dragons game ensues until they confront/defeat the “minotaur,” break through the final Sphinx/Moria doorway, and find — not a bunch of test tubes of genetic materials — but a veritable Eden community, the Lost Ten Tribes as it were, of peace lovers imprisoned by the original warmongers of 13 back in the day. They convince them to emerge from Eden to a new world of possibilities (with a cute girl for Gale). The trial finds Katniss acted nobly to be found guilty, having saved them all, and they live happily ever after.

    Sorry to go off there, but my point is that another ending still could have worked within the narrative, fit within the symbolic framework, and left us all happier/enlightened in the end. As with Twilight, the publishers/filmmakers would have been grateful for another book/film(s) to make an extra billion dollars before its all said and done. And the apparent moral of the final book wouldn’t have wound up to be that “You will need lots of antidepressants to make it through life.”

  26. James, I dunno, I think we just had very different reactions to the ending, which is fine. I didn’t find the ending depressing, I found it hopeful. There were some pretty terrible losses, but I feel like if Collins didn’t leave us with some serious damages, she wouldn’t have been making the point she wanted to make about war. If Katniss didn’t have some lasting nightmares, it wouldn’t have been true to the atrocities she experienced.
    I agree that the ending had a bit of an “Oh shoot! I better end this book or my editor will get ticked off at me” feeling and I could have stood to see a little more Katniss and Peeta at the end, being the sap that I am (though for me, their big kiss was when Katniss kisses him to help him conquer his hijacking). Still, I thought the last few pages of the book were beautiful, the pain is acknowledged, but Katniss is able to grieve and move on. Peeta’s healed and they’re able to love one another, things begin to grow in District 12 and they make medicines there now. Katniss tells us that she knows that no matter what loss we experience, there is hope and life can be good again. She even does something she never thought she’d do, have children, and while pregnancy leaves her terrified, raising her children makes her happy and she quells her fears by remembering instances of the goodness that humanity is capable of. The series was in reality a pretty dark series, so considering that, I think the ending was a hopeful one.

  27. Good points, Diva. Perhaps you’re right. My daughter says that after Katniss/Eve is tempted by the Snow/the serpent in the garden, that she unmakes the world and thus is deserving of a measure of punishment and to be kicked out into the world.

    That said, it might have been fun if Collins had done what Meyer did, and switch points of view over to Peeta (a la Jacob) while the trial went on and he figures out what is real, and what is not.

    John points out well why Collins did what she did, and it all makes sense. I just was disappointed.

  28. The big things that stick out to me after allowing some time to pass are the inner battles that Katniss fought and won, that weren’t so apparent initially.

    The first was the fight to protect Prim. Initially it seemed like a violent shock that Prim was killed in the end. After some reflection though, it was the culmination of Katniss’ goal to protect her. Prim was no longer a helpless child. Because of Katniss she was able to grow, mature (while still young) and find a purpose for herself. She chose to be a part of that medical team, knowing full well the risks it entailed. It was her decision to go and her death was one of honor. The goal of protecting Prim was acheived.

    The second was Katniss’ inner battle with herself. She felt ashamed for the way she perhaps unintentionally manipulated Peeta and Gale. She felt inadequate for her family and those who now looked up to her as a symbol of revolution. She was really just a vulnerable girl. The use of Buttercup the cat as a reflection of Katniss was brilliant. After she returns home and makes peace with Buttercup, we see that she has grown and is no longer fighting with herself. She’s made peace with her inadequacies.

    Her descriptions of Buttercup that are less than kind, were in reality descriptions of how she saw herself. This self-image was of course related mostly to the fact that the old Katniss was just another Panem slave, and while she wanted to be more she knew she wasn’t. She couldn’t see herself in any better light because she knew in the end what she was.

    By the end of the book, she allowed herself to understand that she was more than that. She was a slave that broke free, that took down her brutal masters and found others in her life who were free as well.

    What an utterly fascinating book series. There is so much depth here it’s unbelievable.

  29. Y’all drug me into this series. I wasn’t going to read it. It didn’t sound like the sort of book I would like as I normally don’t read much sci-fi or stories that are so full of violence. However, I kept seeing posts here and decided not to read them unless I read the books and I finally started The Hunger Games after Mockingjay was already out. So that took almost a week, Catching Fire was a two day read, and I took longer with Mockingjay. It was hard for me to finish. The violence began to seem more and more pointless, and things that should have horrified me didn’t anymore. I don’t see that as a positive reaction.

    So, for the questions:
    1. I just finished reading it and I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll want to re-read any of the trilogy in the near future. But I’m glad I read it and look forward to the discussions, particularly about alchemy (which seemed to be prevalent throughout the books, especially Mockingjay. I also plan to loan my books to my daughter as I think she would like them. When I told her the basic story of the first book, she was surprised I was reading them at all “doesn’t sound like your kind of book”. She may be right.

    2. My thinking before I read any of the three – and I have to look at them together since I read one right after another – was that these were books that wouldn’t interest me, that wouldn’t make me even want to finish one. They sounded too depressing. However, I was engrossed in the first two and hated having to put them down. I found Katniss and Peeta and Gale and Prim to be engaging characters. Parts of the book reminded me of 1984 and Brave New World (which I read, but really don’t remember) and even Farenheit 451 (nice touch, there, in Mockingjay. I wasn’t prepared for the graphic violence and I had a hard time with all the hunting, just because it’s not something I would ever do. I’m much more like Prim, rescuing animals, than like Katniss who sees them as food for her family.

    I made myself move past that point and just follow the characters and their journey. And until the last 60 pages of Mockingjay I was able to do that. So, my thinking about the books has changed in a postive way. I see them as having a powerful, yet sometimes confusing and mixed message. But they are the kinds of books that can open all sorts of conversations about how we live with one another, war, the ways we dehumanize others who are not like us, etc.

    3. Mockingjay was powerful, but I’m not sure in the way the author intended. I kept reading and things were more and more unresolved with no real hint of where it was all going. There seemed to be no real clear purpose to the book. It felt too long. And somewhere in the last 60 pages I skipped to the end and read the epilogue and then backed up and read the last two pages. It didn’t tell me how they got there, but it was enough that I finished the book today. I had to put it down for a while and watch some goofy movie just to get myself out of the depressing mood I’d fallen into.

    I think there were ways it could have been powerful that were left out or not developed enough. The moments when Katniss and Johanna seemed to find some common ground were powerful for me. Especially when Katniss gave her the pine needles to remind her of home, and when Buttercup came home.

    But the descriptions of how so many were killed was too much. I found myself just reading through it to get to the next part and tried really hard to not try to imagine how everything looked. I’d rather not have those kinds of nightmares, thanks.

    Even though I may not ever re-read these books, nor do I think I’d want to see a movie of any of them, I will think about them for a long time. I’m curious if the message that I found in the three books is the one Collins intended. I read them as very anti-war. Sometimes the best way to make someone understand how horrific war is is to show the violence and the damage, physical and mental, to those who are in it. The victors, which increasingly becomes an ironic title, are all changed in ways they could not control. Even those who seem to have healed have permanent scars. And that is the result of any war. People are changed in ways that no one should have to endure. It is particularly tragic when the participants are children.

  30. This is my first time reading these articles, and I have to say I love them, I’m a high school student and not even the college classes I’ve taken go this in depth.

    1) I have read, and re-read the stories because the first time I read it I absolutley hated the ending and felt so empty I hoped that by re-reading that would help… it hasn’t.

    2) I guess being the occasionally sappy person I am I neglected the dystopian plotline which was what drew me to the book, in favor of enjoying the pure action of the book and yes the love triangle. After reading Mockingjay I feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under me, figurativley my world was shaken. I was brought abrubtly back to the reaso why I love the books and loved the entire plot of the book, but I still hate the ending.

    3) The book was incredibly powerful, I love dystopia novels and novels with alot of emotions wrapped up into their pages, so I loved this after I spent some time away from the book, immediatley while reading the book however I found it incredibly painful, I guess I’m naive for not seeing that once Finnick got married he was destined to die, it makes sense I guess I never could allow myself think of that possibility. As I stated before I had hope for a better ending, yes it was realistic, but thats not what I wanted, sure Katniss chose Peeta, but it seemed like it was out of convience than out of love, and the epilouge simply skims over any of their recconecting.

    I hope to keep reading these novels to let me enjoy them more and reading these articles to help me further understand them, thanks

  31. After reading all these comments I started to wonder if the disjointed action “behind the scenes” feeling to the ending might have been intentional -not a rushed ending since at that point in the story, the war and all of the propoganda was over. Katniss and Peeta were no longer in the headlines and so we too, no longer received all the details of their lives.

  32. I know I am coming to this a year after the fact, and this is probably addressed elsewhere, but I think the horrible, numbing violence in the last part of MJ is meant to show the reader what war is like. We are meant to be bothered by it and changed by it, just as soldiers at Vimy Ridge or Dieppe or any number of other places were forever changed by watching their friends blown to pieces beside them. I am sure that some soldiers reached the point where death simply lost its horror and just became something to set aside until they were safely back home. If the reader is number to the violence, only to have it return in vivid detail after the book is finished, then the reader’s experience must very closely mirror that of a veteran coming home and subsequently dealing with the aftermath of combat.

    I also see the ending as hopeful (I have re-read it at least ten times, I just keep coming back to it). Katniss recovers enough to let love into her life and to (eventually) have children, as sure sign of hope for someone so determined not to subject another generation to the horrors of the world.

    But both she and Peeta carry the scars of their experience, just as veterans carry their experiences and loss with them for the rest of their lives.

    Thank you to Hog Pro for suggesting the books!

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